MOULTRIE — Have you ever heard or used the expression, “If I only knew then, what I know now?”
So I got to thinking the other night about how we played cowboys and Indians when we were kids. The cowboys were always the good guys, and the Indians were the bad guys. The Korean kid was the cook.
And I wondered to myself that if I had been more enlightened then, would I have romanced the idea of shooting someone as I invaded their homeland?
Let me put this another way, in those earlier days I had not yet embraced the horror of Wounded Knee or the Trail of Tears. I did not know back then that Gen. George Armstrong Custer had an ego so large that he had to make two trips to the Little Big Horn just to haul it there.
Now I fully realize that westward expansion was a natural thing called migration. It has happened throughout our world. But it was the circumstances involved in the expansion that bothers me in retrospect today.
So looking back with greater understanding now, I might have gathered up some chicken feathers and made me a war bonnet. I might have fashioned me a bow from a sassafras limb and sharpened a tobacco stick for a spear. I might initially have tried a pow wow with Randolph Scott, and I might have drawn a line in the sand between the tobacco patch and the peanut field and established that if he crossed that line, my warriors and I would defend all of that area between the first stack of peanuts and Wolf Creek Road.
Of course a great imagination would have been employed in this regard, given that I was a red-headed, freckled face kid of Irish descent and my European DNA did not fit the scenario.
But in those days, I think kids had to rely more on their imaginations than they do today because we did not have the electronic gizmos that in part have rendered them inactive and fat.
Yes indeed, we re-enacted the movies at recess. Some of us got really good in our re-enactment techniques. I recall one kid named Pierce who could simulate with his voice the sound of a Navy Colt revolver. I envied him because I couldn’t make that sound. Of course Pierce couldn’t write a complete sentence or divide 147 by 3, but strangely those abilities didn’t seem all that important at the time, even though such a math skill seemingly would have benefited Gen. Custer in his overall pursuit of longevity.
Then there was a kid named Earl who really liked to get shot. He was an artist at falling off an imaginary horse. He could grab his chest and fall over a row of trash cans in a very believable death scene.
And he would stay dead for a while. He did not jump up after counting to 100 and rejoin the cavalry.
I recall once when Earl stayed dead all recess and even after the bell rung to go back to class. One of the guys had to run out and tell him that Mrs. Newberry was looking for him. Down deep, I really think Earl wanted to convince Mrs. Newberry that he was dead.
Oh well, I can’t live in the past. I can’t fix things that happened then. But perhaps I can learn from the past which, based on our experiences in Vietnam, should be a worthy goal for all of us. I just recently talked to a Vietnam veteran who pulled several tours of duty there and suffered multiple wounds. He said, based on his observations of Afghanistan and Iraq, “I guess we didn’t learn a damn thing.”
Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org